Eat, Pray, Move

A Pilot Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial of a Multilevel Church-Based Intervention to Address Obesity Among African Americans and Latinos

Published in: American Journal of Health Promotion, Volume 33, Issue 4, pages 586–596 (2019). doi: 10.1177/0890117118813333

Posted on on April 28, 2020

by Kathryn Pitkin Derose, Malcolm V. Williams, Karen Rocío Flórez, Beth Ann Griffin, Denise Diaz Payan, Rachana Seelam, Cheryl Branch, Jennifer Hawes-Dawson, Michael Mata, Margaret D. Whitley, et al.

Read More

Access further information on this document at American Journal of Health Promotion

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.


To implement a multilevel, church-based intervention with diverse disparity populations using community-based participatory research and evaluate feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effectiveness in improving obesity-related outcomes.


Cluster randomized controlled trial (pilot). Setting: Two midsized (∼200 adults) African American baptist and 2 very large (∼2000) Latino Catholic churches in South Los Angeles, California.


Adult (18+ years) congregants (n = 268 enrolled at baseline, ranging from 45 to 99 per church).


Various components were implemented over 5 months and included 2 sermons by pastor, educational handouts, church vegetable and fruit gardens, cooking and nutrition classes, daily mobile messaging, community mapping of food and physical activity environments, and identification of congregational policy changes to increase healthy meals.


Outcomes included objectively measured body weight, body mass index (BMI), and systolic and diastolic blood pressure (BP), plus self-reported overall healthiness of diet and usual minutes spent in physical activity each week; control variables include sex, age, race–ethnicity, English proficiency, education, household income, and (for physical activity outcome) self-reported health status.


Multivariate linear regression models estimated the average effect size of the intervention, controlling for pair fixed effects, a main effect of the intervention, and baseline values of the outcomes.


Among those completing follow-up (68%), the intervention resulted in statistically significantly less weight gain and greater weight loss (–0.05 effect sizes; 95% confidence interval [CI] = –0.06 to –0.04), lower BMI (–0.08; 95% CI = –0.11 to –0.05), and healthier diet (–0.09; 95% CI = –0.17 to –0.00). There was no evidence of an intervention impact on BP or physical activity minutes per week.


Implementing a multilevel intervention across diverse congregations resulted in small improvements in obesity outcomes. A longer time line is needed to fully implement and assess effects of community and congregation environmental strategies and to allow for potential larger impacts of the intervention.

Research conducted by

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.